Scotland ‘to lead UK fightback’ in steel production
Scottish-made products can win back the import-dominated UK market for the heavy-duty steel used in bridges, buildings and ships, cabinet secretary for finance and the economy, Derek MacKay, was told yesterday.
During a visit to Liberty Steel Dalzell in Motherwell, Mr MacKay was told how the mill was in the process of winning back home-made share of the British market for plate steel that has been overwhelmed in recent years by imports from continental Europe and South Korea.
Dalzell is now the only remaining fully UK-owned large producer of plate steel, an ultra-tough product used for demanding applications such as large physical structures, ship bodies, undersea oil pipes, bulldozers and wind towers.
Liberty, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s worldwide GFG Alliance, re-opened the plant that had been closed-down by previous owners and, following a tough first year, the company believes the operation is now back on its feet and challenging plate producers abroad.
Gordon MacRae, managing director of Liberty Steel Dalzell, took the cabinet secretary on a tour of the Motherwell plant to meet workers and explain the investment and progress that is being made there.
Mr MacRae said: “With the skill and determination of the workforce at Dalzell, we’ve begun to make real inroads into this market. We’re already reclaiming lost market share and we have big ambitions for future growth, not only at home but in key export markets also.”
He disclosed that the plant has just secured two substantial new contracts and is on target to produce more than 120,000 tonnes of plate this year. This figure is set to rise by at least another 25% next year, as the plant’s expansion plan moves into its next phase.
As part of the group’s value-added business model, he said, a significant amount of steel from Dalzell will be used by other Liberty plants in Scotland and England to make products such as wind towers and oil pipelines.
In addition to reclaiming a large share of the UK plate market, Liberty Steel Dalzell also aims to export to markets such as Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Mr MacRae added: “Making a comeback after closure was always going to be a big challenge but we are now seeing real progress. We’re expanding our product range and customer base and we firmly believe that Scotland is now leading the fightback for a share of the UK market for this toughest of steels.”
Following the visit cabinet secretary MacKay said: “The Scottish Government are committed to ensuring our steel sector has a sustainable future, building on the long and proud heritage of steelwork in Scotland. We are committed to doing as much as we can to increase the industry’s ability to compete in global markets, which will help bring new opportunities to Scotland’s economy.”